Roberto Firmino - Player Profile

Firmino Making His Name On The Big Stage

Personal information
Full name: Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira
Date of birth: 2 October 1991
Age: 23
Place of birth: Maceio, Brazil
Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 1⁄2 in)
Playing position: Attacking midfielder 

Club information
Current team: Liverpool
Number: TBA

Senior career
2009–2010: Figueirense 53 Appearances, 12 goals
2011– 1899: Hoffenheim 153 Appearances, 49 goals

National team
2014– Brazil 7 Appearances, 4 goals

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of Brazil and Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino subject to a medical. Firmino has spent the past four-and-a-half years at Hoffenheim and scored seven league goals last season. The deal is reportedly worth £25 million but performance-related add ons could see the final fee rise to £29 million.

Firmino hails from the city of Maceio, birthplace of three-time World Cup winner Mario Zagallo, who claimed the honour twice as a player and once as a manager. Although he made his name at Figueirense, the attacker began his footballing journey with Clube de Regatas Brasil in his hometown and also enjoyed a stint at Tonbense FC prior to moving to Europe. In his one full season at Figueirense, the teenage Firmino helped his team to promotion from Serie B to the top flight of Brazilian football. The 23-year-old's first goal in Europe was a match-winner, as he netted for Hoffenheim in a 1-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in April 2011. His fourth Bundesliga campaign saw him net an incredible 16 goals in 33 appearances, a haul that saw him recognised as Germany's 'Breakthrough of the Season' in 2013-14. The midfielder also put on 12 goals for his colleagues that term, a figure that took him to second place in the assists chart. Firmino made his first appearance for the Brazil national team against Turkey on November 12, 2014 and netted his first international goal just six days later against Austria. Liverpool's latest signing also boasts a clean injury record, having featured in 33 of Hoffenheim's 34 league fixtures each season for the last three years. The attacker is already off the mark in England, having netted for his country in a friendly meeting with Chile at the Emirates Stadium in March 2015. Combining his own strike tally with his assists, Firmino has been involved in 45 goals in his last 66 outings in the German top flight.

Over the past two seasons, Firmino has become one of the Bundesliga’s most dangerous attacking players, slotting in centrally behind a striker in something of a free role. With most of Hoffenheim’s play going through the Brazilian, he is their primary creator. Despite playing for a side that has finished ninth and eighth in the last two campaigns, Firmino has the second-best assist return (21) behind Kevin De Bruyne (26). To put that into context, Bayern Munich have scored 53 more goals than Hoffenheim since the start of last season, but Firmino has still set up more goals than any Bayern player. He leads the way in Germany for chances created from open play in that time frame (140) as well as dribbles completed (291). What is more, Firmino provides a goal threat of his own, too. Seven goals last season in addition to 16 the campaign previous, make for a sizeable tally from midfield. Twenty-three goals in two seasons is as many as Marco Reus has scored and only three fewer than Thomas Muller. Only Muller (46) and Robert Lewandowski (48) have a higher total of goals and assists combined in the last two Bundesliga seasons than Firmino (44), and he could well thrive with a higher quality of player around him. Still only 23 years of age and playing in a team where he stands out, one might expect the Brazilian to lack in work ethic. In fact the truth is quite the opposite: only five players have made more tackles than Firmino (175) in the last two seasons, each of whom is a defensive midfielder by trade, carrying far, far less in terms of attacking threat. He is the unrivalled first option in nearly everything offensively for Hoffenheim, while Coutinho, Lucas Moura, Neymar and Oscar are surrounded by much more talent, so it’s almost a given he’d have some higher individual statistics. The counterpoint to that argument, though, would be because the other players are surrounded by more talent; they’d have more goalscoring opportunities and therefore should tally higher goal/assist numbers. One of the best talents in an age group loaded with them, Firmino is on track to be a world-beating attacking midfielder. The only question remaining is which European powerhouse he will be playing for when he reaches his tremendous potential.

Firmino only made his first call-up into the national squad in November last year, telling him that he has to take his chance or face being left in the cold from the national set-up. However after two goals and an assist in his first four appearances for the Selecao, Firmino is now a key part of the Brazilian squad especially since Dunga is badly in need of goals from midfield due to the lack of a top striker. With Dunga’s style being based on hard work and being solid in defence and midfield, the Hoffenheim man has benefited greatly. His willingness to track back; put his foot in a tackle and sacrifice himself for the team despite playing high-up the pitch is admirable. With the lack of goals upfront, Neymar usually has to shoulder the burden of creating and also scoring but with Brazil’s main man out for the rest of the Copa America; Firmino will have to step up his game.  He is capable of playing anywhere in the final third and more than capable of hitting the back of the net from anywhere. The former Hoffenheim player has looked good, and now with talisman Neymar ruled out for the rest of the tournament, Brazil will put faith into their new star to lead the team in attack.